Time For Some Sunshine

Spring is finally here, and I am allowing myself to actually become excited. It has been warm for a consecutive amount of days, and the next few weeks are looking promising. So I decided to celebrate by learning one of my favorite songs, Here Comes the Sun, by The Beatles.

As I told you in my last video post, it’s not the prettiest rendition you will ever hear, since I only learned it this afternoon. But I was too excited to share some spring time sunshine with you all! I hope you enjoy it, or are at least proud of me for trying.

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Mixin’ with a Sticky Crowd

So I gt together with my darling friend and fellow blogger, Laney Garcia, this afternoon. She is the blogger of YumYumGum, a blog about all things bubble gum! We were attempting to blow a bubble with gum, using the harmonica. Unfortunately, it didn’t work as we had hoped, and I left with sticky fingers and a gum splattered harmonica. At least it now smells immensely of Bubbalicious grape!

Check out our video on YouTube.

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New Years Leads to Fame

We have all experienced the promise of a new year and what it can hold. And year after year we make our annual goals/promises to ourselves about how we are going to do something great this year through our New Year’s resolutions. Goals for losing weight, getting in shape, dropping habits, learning new skill, getting a better job, managing debt, saving money…the list goes on and on.

Although we make these resolutions and get pumped about starting a new year afresh, we quickly lose our gusto and let them falter within 2 months. And according to public surveys, anywhere from 80% to 92% of Americans will not follow through with their New Year’s resolution. This, however was not the case for Mike Reid with his resolution for 2001: learning to play the harmonica. In fact, not only did he stick to it through the whole year, but once that year of deidcated learning and practice was up, he formed a band and became famous.

The beginning of his practice started out with open mic nights at his home in Toronto. This soon grew in to him playing with many of his friends in cover shows at various pubs. He soon formed the name and band which he is known by today, Shrimp Daddy and the Sharp Shooters. By the end of 2009, he had recorded his first albumn, Messin’ With my System, and was awarded The Maple Blues Awards, Canada’s national blues awards, for one of the country’s top new artists. He was also voted by fans as best new artist.

Here is a video of Shrimp Daddy and the Sharp Shooters playing live in a pub:

This success can be attributed to his love of blues music and his full dedication to playing and learning the harmonica. It can start with a simple promise to yourself and the strife to keep that promise.

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Quick Question for Readers

Harmonicas can be used in many different genres of music, but the two most popular and well known genres are of course folk/country and the blues or jazz. These are obviously very different forms of music, but I am curious to know: Which genre of music do you most prefer when listening to the harmonica?

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Sunny Day: Sesame Street Harp

Who says young people can’t enjoy the harmonica? In fact, many of us have been thrilled by it in our early childhood years. And not only that, but we’ve had the pleasure of listening to one of the most famous and greatest players.

Toots Thielemans, a famous master of the harmonica, has graced our childhood through our television. I think that it is safe to say that most people are familiar with the Sesame Street theme song, and can recognize the tune instantly. But most probably do not know that Theilman, was the harmonica player who poured interest into the familiar jingle with his harmoica solos.

You can listen and watch the show’s theme song, infused with harmonica solos on YouTube

Thielemans was known well for his harmonica and guitar playing, and famous whistling. He became a member of the “Charlie-Parker’s All Stars” and recorder with many famous artists such as Ella Fitzgerald, Quincy Jones, Paul Simon, and Billy Joel.

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Post Updates!

So I have recently updated one of my previous posts on the B-Radical harmonica, the first harmonica manufactured in the U.S. The post is titled Harmonicas, Becoming Radical in the 21st Century.

Previously I didn’t have any links for you to check out, but you can now visit Brad Harrison’s, the founder of the B-Radical, site and read more about his process and instrument. I have also updated some of the information and included some videos. I hope you enjoy it!

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Getting Over Getting Started

There is something exciting and thrilling in learning a new skill. If you’re anything like me, the idea of picking up skills and talents which you have admired for so long feels like a new adventure. And the look on people’s faces when you can tell them, “Yes, I have decided to learn to do that myself!”, is intoxicating.

However, moving from this decision to learn  into the actual process of learning can be incredibly overwhelming. This is usually the point in my “adventure to adapt my new skill” where I find myself faltering.

This is what happened when I decided to learn to play the harmonica. I had what I needed to learn but I was at a loss on how to start. The idea of drilling over notes is entirely too dull in order to keep up my momentum of practice, which anyone can tell you is essential for success and progress. But here is what I have discovered is the most beneficial and motivating way to keep up with repetitive practice:

First, discover a way to hold yourself accountable. For me, I started a blog so that I would have an audience expecting my progress from practice.

Next find a song that you know well and enjoy. Simply search for its harmonica tabs online, and then, start playing! Harmonica tabs are extremely easy for beginners to read because you do not have to know how to read music or know which notes are where on the instrument.

You may not sound that great right away, but I found that using songs you are already familiar with is much easier and more fun than songs you have never heard before. This way, you will want to practice, because you can hear the progress you make as you work with familiar tunes. The first song that I learned was Happy Birthday, which you can watch me play on my blog. And yes, this is an incredibly boring and cliché song for beginners, but when I heard the right notes being produced as I played I was reinvigorated and eager to continue. It also helps a lot with learning rhythm within a song if you are already familiar with it. The more you practice, the better you will become at all of the various techniques, and will eventually be able to take on new sings. And who knows, maybe you will gain enough courage to step out of the box and create a masterful ditty of your own!

But get out there and START! Keep it simple and exciting for yourself, and the progress will be impossible to ignore.

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